Why do you want to live in a Commune, and What is Your Ideal Commune?

Discussion in 'Communal Living' started by Happy Art Girl, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. The idea of a commune is pretty new to me, and I must admit the only knowledge I really have of one is what I have seen in the movie "Wanderlust" and pictures I have searched online.

    I love the idea of a commune, but I really wanted to know, what do you seek a commune for, and what is your ideal commune?

    I have previously been inspired by the Amish communities, living away from technology & electricity, living in harmony with nature. That aspect of their lives seems beautiful. Their lives are much slower than a busy city life, they deliberately take their time and enjoy life. Living a more spiritual life. They also live in a close-knit community, that helps each other out. They live sustainably, able to live off-grid, and growing most of the food they eat. That all sounds great to me.

    Is that what you crave communal living for, is there more to it?
  2. N.L.Baron

    N.L.Baron Member

    There are many reasons why people want to join communes. Getting back to the land, leaving the polluted cities behind, being surrounded by nature, not concrete. Since we humans tend to be social animals, many who want to get off the grid tend to look for others with the same interests to form a community of like minded people.
    The Amish are a good example of a community that has been successful. I also find them to be very inspiring and since so many of them have been moving to my area lately, I have actually got to know some of them and learn more about why their communities have succeeded while so many other intentional communities have failed.
    Do you see yourself living on a commune sometime in the future?
    1 person likes this.
  3. Maelstrom

    Maelstrom Banned

    I am too antisocial to live in a commune.
  4. I crave the idea of living in a commune, I don't know if I would ever be brave enough to do so. It sounds both scary and exciting at the same time. Maybe one day in the future.

    That's so amazing that you have Amish living close to you now. The only way I get to learn about the Amish is through TV and the internet, as far as I know, there are none living in the UK. Why do you think their communities have succeeded while many intentional communities have failed? I guess they have lived that way through generations of their family and know what they are doing, or perhaps it is because they share the same beliefs and follow the Bible, they are perhaps not quite so individual in their beliefs?
  5. SpacemanSpiff

    SpacemanSpiff Visitor

    I'd love it

    but only if owned everything and was Chief :pimp:

    veto power ftw

    I would also have to be harem leader and all other men would undergo castration procedure
  6. N.L.Baron

    N.L.Baron Member

    Many changes in life are scary and exciting. Better to try it out and see if it is for you than to wish you had tried it when you are old.
    I have heard that communes are becoming more common in Europe because of the economic problems and very high unemployment there.
    With the Amish, I think that since they are born into it, they are just so used to that kind of life and see the outside world as kind of scary. Also, since all their friends and family are in the group, they ususlly don't want to leave them all behind. Some do leave but they are a surprisingly small percentage.
    If you are considering really being part of a commune, then I can give you more details about the one that I am starting up. Since you are not a member and can not PM me, you can write to N.L.eco.community@gmail.com and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.
  7. AlchemistGeorge

    AlchemistGeorge Living Communally since 1995

    I've been living in intentional communities for ~15 years. I currently live in the Lafayette Morehouse, I used to live in the Oakland Morehouse, and in the Cabro Community

    I'm not the most outgoing guy in the world, so living in a community puts me around people, and gives me stuff to do with other people - gardening (we have 26 acres of land), preparing meals, volunteering for charities, putting a new roof on a building, etc. Our group is very interested in quality of life, so there is lots of emphasis on enjoying what you do, and making what you do (and how we live) enjoyable.

    With a group you can do so much more, whether it is feeding less fortunate people in your county or throwing The Most Amazing Halloween Party you've ever seen! Group living is a lot more fun, and people in the group can support each other in achieving their goals whether that is a spiritual pursuit, an artistic calling, or having a better relationship with your partner.

    For me, ideally, I'd be able to completely make my living here, and not have to work outside*, but currently "our family business" only covers the mortgage, insurance, taxes, most of our utilities (ie a whole lot, but not everything). If you think about "Wanderlust" you have to sell a whole lot of home grown zucchini at 39 cents a pound to be able to pay for health insurance (not a problem for you in the UK, but I think you get my point). Making wine (clothed or unclothed) might be a far better family business than an organic garden.

    Oh, and, never lend your car to anyone.

    The old joke is that the best thing about living in community is the people, and the worst thing is the people. The real joke is that its the same people - we are hard to get along with and hard to live with, so many communities don't last. But in the right circumstances its like filling a bag with pebbles - they rub the sharp edges of each other and polish each other up - that's what its like living here.

    *Fortunately we are quite close to Oakland, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
    1 person likes this.
  8. N.L. Baron - I don't think I'm ready to be part of a commune at the moment, I am just finding out about them. I currently live with my family, and wouldn't want to leave them behind either. (I can relate to the Amish there). But I would like to learn more about it, and if there's any way I can adapt my own home life to being a bit more like communal living and find a compromise as to the best way to live.

    AlchemistGeorge - The way you describe community living sounds amazing. I especially love the fact that you have emphasis on enjoying what you do and making what you do enjoyable. How do you work on that? Encouraging each other to be happy, or anything specific? I am unemployed at the moment, so I am pretty much only socialising with my immediate family that I live with, and we don't get to do the things you're describing here. It sounds like you have much more opportunity to do things you wouldn't normally do. How many people live in your community at the moment? And I can imagine a large group Halloween Party must have been amazing!

    I guess for making a living solely in your community it would be good to find a profitable business you could all help out with, like the wine making, or maybe farming. Whatever would provide enough to feed and house everyone in your community. Perhaps you could all contribute with craft-making, jam-making, art, etc. to sell at markets/fairs?

    Oh, and definitely never lend your car - it will end up in the lake! That was so funny!
  9. AlchemistGeorge

    AlchemistGeorge Living Communally since 1995

    The way you describe community living sounds amazing. I especially love the fact that you have emphasis on enjoying what you do and making what you do enjoyable. How do you work on that?
    - its part of our philosophy. We teach courses on it. Here is some information about us http://www.lafayettemorehouse.com/about.html

    How many people live in your community at the moment?
    - about 60
  10. Thanks so much for the link AlchemistGeorge, I am enjoying learning more about your community! :)
  11. pushkin

    pushkin Guest

    > what do you seek a commune for?

    1. I had a group of friends in my teens and twenties that were very close. I think we were a "commune", in that our lives were so intertwined. We trusted each other completely (or mostly). We knew each others quirks. None of us really had family, and we provided that for each other. Our friendships provided some stability - I guess most people lean on family as boyfriends/girlfriends come and go, we had had each other. This went away for all of us in our thirties due to marriages and a serious disruption in the relationship between two of the five or six of us that drew everyone onto sides, and some other things. Now, in my early forties and after a divorce, I want the same thing again.

    2. Economic insecurity. We've had two economic collapses in my lifetime, where people couldn't afford anything and all jobs went away. America, Europe, and Japan are moving towards that themselves by recklessly printing money and growing their income inequality grossly. I want the security of growing my own food, year-round.

    3. Ability to live a rural life. I love the country and forest. It is impossible to live year-round in normal means in rural areas here. The only way to make a living is to live in the big cities, and spend some vacation time in the summer at countryside. A commune that has a good idea might do it.

    4. Be around creative, interesting people. I guess that each of us only gets at most, maybe ten or twenty really close relationships with other people in our lives. I mean closer than what most Westerners call "friends", which seems to me mostly very superficial relationships. With so few close people in a lifetime, it tells me to pick very carefully. I want close friendships with people I respect. I want more close relationships than just my spouse, and I mentioned I have little family outside of my own, so there's that. The normal here is that close friendships are the people who live close to you in countryside, maybe some people from university that stay close or army, and family. I want a little broader horizon.

    > and what is your ideal commune?

    nice enough place, beautiful countryside. But commune can be anywhere, it is not defined by space. We have our commune in the city now as we organize work in the property we own in countryside. It is simply a room to be in and share time with each other.
  12. Thank you Pushkin, I really enjoyed reading your post. I love the idea of the people in the commune becoming like family and always being there for each other. Economic security would be great, which I imagine would be helped by having everyone pull together to help the commune as a whole. Perhaps a bit like families used to years ago. Nowadays most real blood-relative families can pull apart, so obsessed with their own lives, they have no time or interest in anyone else's.

    I never really thought about how many people we will have really close relationships with in our lifetime. I have had people drift in and out of my life, like when one of us changes jobs, that then can mean you never see that person again. It is so easy to fall out of touch with each other. Also marriages and having kids can mean that you don't see as much of each other as you no longer seem to have anything in common with them. You don't tend to have as many long-term friends, or close family who are as close to you throughout your life. We drift off apart as family, friends and communities. A commune allows you to live closely and share one another's lives.

    Beautiful thoughts, thank you!

    It is hard to imagine having a commune in a city, especially just the one room. But good that you can make even the smallest area work.
  13. oldwolf

    oldwolf Waysharing-not moderating Super Moderator

    Change is always the constant.
    For so many of us , we wander - seeking.
    Few even Know what they seek.

    Community comes together when people are willing to give - of them Selfs.
    But before they can Do that - They must find that kernel within that IS the Self.

    For me community was always about trust, Knowing that there is trust and you also trust with those with whom you share.
    But one must dig deep within to Know what they can trust from that central Self.

    When one finds within their Intent - without which living becomes not Whole - they have found something within that is constant - at least for that moment, which is further than most go.

    Nothing is ever secure though - for Change is the constant - for we Grow - Live & Learn.

    And so one eventually gives of Self because that gives reason for Being.

    So often words cannot tell the full story - one must make the intuitive jump.

    We Give to Live the Life we choose to BE.
  14. pushkin

    pushkin Guest

    hi oldwolf - good to see you, my friend!

    Happy Art Girl - thank you for your comments.

    > I imagine would be helped by having everyone
    > pull together to help the commune as a whole

    We own a large piece of property, but are still in the founding stage. I have come to realize that the structure and facilities must be in place, before people can in general do this. It is a very difficult path. It is not possible to tell someone "do this!" - people attracted to commune are somewhat anti-authoritarian to start with, and authoritarian structure attacks the bonds of community in any case. On the other hand, it's not possible to expect so much initiative in building something out of others. So I think it takes one person to work hard and put the means together, and then make an agreement with the others to fulfill certain roles to participate.

    Another hard issue is that the people who I'm most interested in spending my life with are not the people who are most competent to do the establishing work of a commune. They don't mind doing the day to day necessities, but lack the mentality to put a business together in the beginning. So it brings the question, what is the motivation of the founder(s) to put so much work in? The wrong answer would be for glory and cult of personality. So foundation seems a very difficult problem to me. I am sure there are good books on this, but I do not have access to them. Of course we still have bears walking on sidewalks in the major cities; ebay will not ship to us! (about the bears is a joke, it is very modern here in the cities).

    > It is hard to imagine having a commune in a city, especially just the one room

    I know of an eco-commune in the city, but their principles do not match to mine. We have a vegetarian and a fruititarian in our group but they are not noticeable in their preferences really, anymore than not serving my children foods they dislike is not so noticeable. The eco-commune is almost militant and better-than-us about their strict vegetarianism, intolerance to smoking and alcohol, overuse of petchouli instead of soap, and annoying drums all nights long.

    That said, they make a commune in the city work. They have a communal kitchen and a large enough space to support a number of businesses that center around their interests - a drum making studio, a clothes-making studio, yoga studio. It felt like a community when I visited them (we talked about joining groups).

    Our group emphasizes creative pursuits - theater, video-production, crafts, music. We have a business that provides work teaching English theater for children, mostly to support ourselves in the city while our property develops. So the group members work together professionally, share apartments, and the room provides a central place to gather around for creative things and food. Several of us really like cooking so we have good times together. It is always a difficulty how much of our time is about business, which is necessary but alienating, and about bonding and sharing interests, which is fun but must be in proportion.
  15. AlchemistGeorge

    AlchemistGeorge Living Communally since 1995

    I've posted this link before, apologies if too often, this is the Oakland Morehouse, its been an urban intentional community since 1968. Its a ~120 year old 3 story Victorian house full of people. The website has some pictures so you can get some idea of what a 'city commune' could be like.

    Being near downtown Oakland it doesn't have much room for gardening, etc., but you can walk to stores and there is mass transit and don't need to own a car. I lived there for ~ 3 years.

    I think a big part of what you need for a community is a group, so I often suggest to people that they start now getting their group together. Usually folks don't have lots of real estate or money, but a 4 bedroom apartment is usually less rent per bedroom than a two bedroom apartment, and you can start getting your group together and practice living with other folks (which may be harder than it sounds)
  16. oldwolf

    oldwolf Waysharing-not moderating Super Moderator

    hehe actually in town rental of a nice roomy house is easy community, but staying together is another subject. Nice thing about a roomy house is when broken down shares are less than individual apartments, so it is easy usually to replace any 'members' lost to attrition. It is also an easy practice run at community in the country where you are talking about buying and therefore want better commitments and security (which i've been trying to tell you is not a good idea with community - change is usually very frequent within ICs). But I do acknowledge that each and everyone is different, and the experiences of one may not be the same for another.

    have fun because if it ain't you may not wish to stay. Life can and should be full of joy, and that is up to the individuals not community.

    Enjoy !

    Blessings (lessons we learn)

  17. Pushkin, this gives me a huge insight into putting together a commune, it sounds a huge headache! But hopefully one that is worth it! I agree you definitely want to get on with the people in your group, even if that means they may not be as skilled at the jobs that you need fulfilling in your group. And you definitely need a group with matching choices in how they wish to make their money and how they want to live. In diet, smoking, etc, and being on a level playing field with them. I would want a community to treat each other with respect, and accept that each other's views may be different from their own, but not necessarily wrong. Everyone has to be in agreement to accept that, and/or willing to accept each other's differences. I do not envy your job trying to put that together, but it also shows that there will be many different communes with different beliefs, and it would not be easy to find one to match your beliefs so that you would be a suitable fit for their commune.
  18. OldWolf, I absolutely love every word of this post. And I think you are probably right, I don't think I am ready for a commune, but I would like to work towards it within myself. Getting to know myself would be a good place to start, as well as developing skills and ideas of what I want to do, and what kind of commune I might like to be a part of.
  19. AlchemistGeorge, Thank you so much for this link, I haven't seen it before. I didn't think a commune in the city could work very well, but this looks amazing. And they all look so happy in the pictures. I imagine getting on well would be very important, if you had a personality clash, it would soon become a problem for the whole community. And as you say, OldWolf, staying together would not always be easy. It is brilliant to see everyone mucking in and helping to fix the house up and the garden as well. Surprisingly even though they are based in the city, they do appear to have somewhat of a garden!

    How would it work, in a community where their philosophy is: "We are dedicated to a lifestyle of doing only what we want to do while being mindful of our responsibilities and our impact on others." They obviously muck in together to make food, fix house, gardening, etc. But they choose to do what they want. If you were to do whatever you want, you could sit outside and sun yourself in the garden all day and be completely lazy, but that wouldn't help anyone in the community and would be incredibly selfish! Do they have some kind of a rota or plan as to who does what each day? Which would go against the "lifestyle of doing only what we want to do" How do they know everything is going to get done? It seems to work in the photos, and with them looking happy, you assume there are no arguments??? They must have a strong desire to make it work.
  20. AlchemistGeorge

    AlchemistGeorge Living Communally since 1995

    You really don't have to do anything. We assume that sometimes people won't want to pitch in - so if we organize a 'groovy' - say we are going to paint the porch saturday morning starting at 10am - we assume we will have at least one 'flake' - one person who is there who is not participating.

    People often assume its not fun to wash dishes, or scrub floors. It can be, if you want it to be. We find having fun is a skill.

    no, unfortunately, we argue almost as much as everyone else. however, we are "pretty serious" <big smile> about getting along, and we usually remember - or we remind each other - that both parties in the argument are perfect - and we stick with it - in a civilized and loving manner - until the situation is resolved.

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